Call to cut number of councillors in Blackburn
ONE in three of Blackburn with Darwen’s 64 councillors should be axed to save cash, veteran Tory Colin Rigby told the borough’s annual budget meeting, He said when the authority was cutting spending by £30 million over two years to meet government targets, three members per ward was one too many.
The former Tory group leader praised the Labour’s efforts to reduce senior managers but said they did not go far enough.
Coun Rigby said: “There are several areas which could produce further savings.
“Why do we need three councillors for each ward? Why not two.
“In these times of austerity we should be looking at every means of saving money and that includes the costs and number of councillors.”
Labour’s regeneration boss Dave Harling said: “In our wards there is more than enough work for three councillors. Cutting to two would impose heavy burdens on those who remain.”
Finance boss Coun Andy Kay said: “It is difficult to cut the number of councillors.
“It may not be same the same in Tory wards, but Labour councillors are seeing their workloads increase because of government cuts.”
Liberal Democrat leader Coun David Foster then called for a reduction in senior posts for councillors that attract extra allowances of £6,134.40 a year..
Coun Kay said some executive board positions were created to provide jobs for three parties when the council was controlled by a Conservative, LibDem, For Darwen party coalition.
Coun Rigby said: “I just think we have too many councillors. Bolton has a population of 265,000 and 60 councillors.
“We have 64 for 147,000 people. We are talking about a bill for councillors’ expenses and allowances approaching £500,000 a year. We could save £150,000 annually but reducing the number by a third.”
Coun Kay said: “We have examined and will continue to examine every aspect of spending.
“We anticipate that the council will be required to find further additional savings of between £6.7 million and £15.5 million in 2015/16.”
Changing the number of councillors requires a lengthy process including a boundary commission review, consultation sanction by both Houses of Parliament taking up to four years.